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A year of Living kindly: Author shares how being kind can change your life

Donna Cameron spent one year practicing the art of kindness and noticed a significant change in herself. She was happier, lighter, and more confident. Her book "A Year of Living Kindly: Choices that will change your life and the world around you" shares the skills she learned to make kindness more than just an intention.

Donna Cameron says the main thing she learned from her year of living kindly is that there are specific skills we can learn to make kindness a habit; it takes awareness and intention. Her journey started with differentiating between being nice versus being kind. You can be nice and still grit your teeth, but kindness asks you to make a connection with another person or to give someone the benefit of the doubt.

Here are a few of her biggest kindness lessons:

1. Pause

Cameron says people often respond to unkindness with knee jerk reactions. Pausing gives us time to think about what we want to come from this interaction and often times people will make a wiser, kinder choice.

2. Pay Attention

Many times we are so focused on our mobile devices that we may not notice the person behind us who could use help with groceries. Paying attention to our surroundings gives us an opportunities to show kindness.

3. Let go of Judgment

If it's the person driving too slowly or someone who didn't follow the instructions, instead of judging them, try assuming good intent. Withholding judgment is about believing the best, instead of the worst.

If you experience unkindness, try being curious about that person. Is something happening that made that person behave that way? Is there an opportunity to give someone the benefit of the doubt.

4. What we think about is what we become

If we look for kindness, we will often find it. Recognize the special qualities fo the people you encounter.

5. Kindness isn't a destination, it's a path.

Everyone will stumble in their interactions with themselves and others. The important thing is to keep moving forward on the path, continually committing to kindness.

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